All things are relative. Relatively speaking, planet Earth is big. In fact, it’s really big. With such a vast and expansive planet, it stands to reason that it’s going to be filled with countless marvels and miracles, some of them made by mankind and others made through the fascinating phenomenon that is Mother Nature. Either way, our world is truly filled with endless wonders.
With so much to see in our planet’s nearly 25,000 miles of land and water around its equator and its nearly 25,000 miles from pole to pole, it’s impossible to ever come close to experiencing all that it has to offer. With every continent in the world having limitless beauties throughout their lands, lakes, rivers and forests, along with our endless oceans and the ingenuity of human architecture, it’s easy to see that our planet truly is a spectacle to behold.
Although nearly impossible to limit all that fascinates us into one list, there are certain awe-inspiring locations that stand above the rest. Whether by popularity, most visited, or simply the most remarkable, here is a list of 25 iconic global landmarks as seen from the heavens above.
25 Big Ben, London, England - A Timeless Royal Wonder
For a clock that's been around for over a century and a half, it truly is timeless as it will prove to stand the test of time for centuries to come. Built in 1859, Big Ben sits atop the 315 foot clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, overlooking the famous River Thames across the water from the magnificent London Eye.
With so much historical and cultural significance in its immediate surroundings, Big Ben is one of London's most well-known landmarks. In this image, the clock and its spire light up the nighttime London sky.
24 Acropolis, Athens, Greece – The Soaring Ancient Citadel
Greece has long been known to be one of the most ancient civilizations that helped usher in humankind’s journey into a society of democracy and order. At the heart of that very important turning point in mankind’s existence stands the ancient remains of what was once Athens’ center and most important area.
The Acropolis of Athens is quite literally a collection of the city’s most significant buildings, most notably, the famous Parthenon. From this bird’s eye view, it stands out above the rest of the Acropolis’ remains because of its architectural beauty and well-intact structure after thousands of years of soaring above the city of Athens.
23 Amazon Rainforest, South America – A World Unto Itself
Mother Nature makes its first entry into our list of global landmarks, beating out many of mankind’s engineering innovations. Truly, one of nature’s most magnificent marvels, the Amazon Rainforest is unlike any other place on the planet.
At over 2.1 million square feet, it is nearly three times the size of the country of Mexico, an incredible feat, considering Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world.
The size of this jungle is difficult to grasp, but its millions of animal, fish, birds and insect inhabitants are a testament to its vast scope. In this striking image from above, the rainforest can be seen stretching for what seems like an eternity, with the Amazon River, the longest in the world, at over 4,300 miles snaking its way through the trees.
22 The Colosseum, Rome, Italy – An Arena Fit For Battle
Ancient manmade architecture makes its second appearance on the list, but this time coming from the Romans. One of Rome’s most famous attractions, it has stood for thousands of years, even though it has partially been damaged during that time through both natural and human interaction.
For its time, this structure was gargantuan. In fact, even by today’s standards, it’s just as big as the current arenas and stadiums being constructed, able to hold about 65,000 people, making it the largest amphitheater ever built.
Famous for holding gladiator battles during its time, the Colosseum can be seen from the sky in the center of Rome from this aerial shot.
21 Statue of Liberty, New York City, USA – A Graceful Welcome
Fast forwarding to more modern times, Lady Liberty has been welcoming visitors, immigrants, and tourists from around the world into New York Harbor for well over a century.
One of America’s most famous landmarks and arguably the most famous statue ever erected, her famous green copper hue stands over 30o feet tall in one of the world’s most trafficked harbors.
In this shot from the sky, her majestic beauty stands tall in New York Harbor.
20 Machu Picchu, Cuzco Region, Peru - A Hidden Treasure in the Mountains
Traveling back to more ancient times, the Incas built what is considered one of the wonders of the world a little over 550 years ago. Although not as ancient as some of the other landmarks on this list, its cultural significance is.
Built as a home for an Incan emperor, the citadel sits atop a mountain range nearly 8,000 feet up.
In this stunning aerial view, the intricacies of the ancient city can be seen atop the mountain.
19 The Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE - Touching The Heavens
Joining the list as the youngest global landmark, this modern marvel is an architectural feat that simply cannot be matched by any other structure ever built.
At 2,722 feet, it is easily the tallest skyscraper ever built, nearly 600 feet taller than the second highest.
You could quite literally fit a skyscraper between the Burj Khalifa and the second tallest in the world. To even further highlight the magnitude of its immense size, you could stack two Empire State Buildings on top of one another and the Burj Khalifa would just barely come up short.
In this shot from above, its size overwhelms the city of Dubai's other buildings, which amazingly, are fairly standard sized skyscrapers, but look minuscule by comparison.
18 Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France - The Revered Site of France
Considered among one of the most famous churches in the world, this French Gothic style Catholic cathedral is cemented in history with its religious and historical significance. Completed nearly 800 years ago and standing nearly 300 feet tall when including its spires, Notre Dame has been made popular through countless pop culture references.
Even its infamous gargoyles sitting atop the towers overlooking the city, facing the Eiffel Tower are well known. One of Paris’ standout landmarks, the cathedral can be seen from the sky in this image, showing off its immense size amongst the city’s surrounding buildings.
17 St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome, Italy - The Divine Giant
In honor of St. Peter, the head of Jesus’ 12 Apostles and first ever Pope, the religious and historical importance of St. Peter’s Basilica makes it the quite possibly the holiest site in all of Christianity. Home to St. Peter’s Square right outside the structure, millions of Catholics have convened here to visit the Pope during his appearances.
Not just impressive in its significance, but also in its size, it is the largest church on the planet by a wide margin.
16 The Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA – Nature in All Its Beauty
Mother Nature makes another appearance on the list with this remarkable feat of science. Through pressure and time, the Colorado River carved its path through the rock, forming one of the most breathtakingly beautiful natural formations known to man. At nearly 300 miles long and in some places, reaching a depth of over a mile, the canyon’s size is simply incredible.
In this stunning shot from above, the river that created the canyon can be seen flowing in the valleys of the plateau’s instantly recognizable red rock.
15 The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA - The Real Iron Giant
Moving over not too far from Arizona, in California, our next landmark is the most photographed bridge in the world. Often considered one of the most important modern engineering feats because of its advanced nature for its time, the Golden Gate Bridge is still impressive nearly a century after it was first built.
Although no longer the longest or tallest bridge in the world, it certainly was upon its completion in 1937. Standing at almost 750 feet, it’s as tall as many of the world’s skyscrapers and spanning nearly a mile long, it is one of the state’s most visited locations.
Seen in this shot from the sky, its reddish-orange tinge is visible as it towers over the San Francisco Bay.
14 Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico - Ancient Mayan City of Worship
The Incas showed up on this list earlier with their construction of Machu Picchu. This time, the Mayans have their turn with their ancient city of Chichen Itza, now the famous archaeological site in Mexico.
Developed about a thousand years ago, it’s one of the oldest landmarks on our list, but is still in incredible condition due to its impressive engineering and the country’s concerted efforts of preservation.
In this magnificent photo from the sky, its ruins can be seen with El Castillo, the most famous of the structures, touching the highest point in the area.
13 The Great Wall of China, China - Innovation Like No Other
Often considered one of the most impressive architectural accomplishments in human history, the Great Wall spans nearly 13,200 miles long, making it the longest manmade structure ever built. What makes it even more astonishing is it being constructed during a time with little advanced knowledge of engineering.
To make sense of just how long it is, the wall is about half the length of planet Earth’s equator.
It’s quite literally half the length of our planet’s circumference. Just a small portion of it can be seen from the sky in this image that shows its striking beauty and scope.
12 Pyramids of Giza, Egypt - Ancient Wonder of the World
One of the original seven wonders of the ancient world and the only one still standing today, the great Pyramids of Giza and its Sphinx are quite possibly the most recognizable structures ever built my man.
Easily the oldest landmark on our list at some 4,500 years old, they are a wonder in human ingenuity.
There are a total of six pyramids, with three of them being massive in size and another three often overshadowed because of their much smaller stature in comparison to the Great Pyramids. They served as tombs and stand tall by the ever present Sphinx statue which sits in front of the complex.
11 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE - Worshipping in Grandeur
The United Arabs Emirates makes it second appearance on this list, but this time not in the city of Dubai.
Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE boasts the largest mosque in the country making it one of the biggest Islamic places of worship in the world. Able to hold over 40,000 worshippers, it is one of the most visited mosques today. From this daytime view in the sky, its size and beauty are punctuated by its famous perfect white hue.
10 The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France - The Most Famous Of All
One of the most famous landmarks of all time, the Eiffel Tower is instantly recognizable to just about anyone. It’s not necessarily a tall structure by normal standards when compared to many of the world’s highest, but its mark on the world is undoubtable.
At 1,063 feet, its beautiful iron framework stands out in Paris’ sky, visibly making its mark from anywhere in the city. Built as a lattice tower in 1889, it is the most visited paid landmark in the world.
9 Times Square, New York City, USA - City of Lights
As far as most visited landmarks in the world, Times Square is hard to beat. Although the Eiffel Tower is the most visited paid attraction, Times Square would trump that number because it’s free.
Often considered the “center of the universe”, it is a marvel to behold because of its sheer volume of pedestrian traffic. At nearly 50 million visitors a year, hundreds of thousands of people cross through daily.
Famous for its bright lights, illuminating advertising billboard screens, countless shops and home to the world famous Broadway Theatre District, Times Square is something everyone should experience at least once. In this stunning nighttime aerial view of New York City’s Manhattan island, the lights from Times Square illuminate brighter than the rest of the city.
8 Mount Everest, China and Nepal - The Unmatched Behemoth
In an exact opposite contrast to the previous landmark on our list, Mount Everest is anything but manmade. Sitting within the borders of Nepal and China, it is one of nature’s most remarkable creations, the highest mountain on the planet, above sea level.
At 29,029 feet, its height has made it the most famous giant in the world. To truly grasp how tall the mountain is, you’d have to compare it to other structures. For perspective, it’s about 5 ½ miles tall.
It is the equivalent of 27 Eiffel Towers on top of one another.
Its size is truly astonishing. In this image from above, no picture can quite do its immense size justice, but it’s a sight to behold nonetheless.
7 Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India - The Crown Jewel
Built in honor of an emperor’s wife to hold her remains after her passing nearly 400 years ago, the Taj Mahal is the crown jewel of India. Considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world, it is one of the most recognizable structures ever built.
The tomb holding the princess is the main attraction, but it also serves as a mosque and has beautiful gardens surrounding the structure.
Although there is a decline in the surrounding beauty because of the lack of upkeep in the neighboring areas, it is still a landmark that has withstood time.
6 Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – A Watchful Guardian
While we are on the topic of iconic statues overlooking magnificent cities, no list could be complete without Christ the Redeemer.
Although not as old, nor nearly as tall as Lady Liberty, his place on this list of global landmarks is unquestionable. Built just a little over a century ago and standing right at 125 feet tall, it is not just the size of the statue that impresses, but his location that truly draws astonishment from visitors.
Standing atop Mount Corcovado, it has a vantage point over the city of Rio de Janeiro, giving the impression that Christ is watching over the city's people with open arms.